Arizona State used a three-goal spurt late in the first period to defeat UAH 5-1 on Saturday and sweep the series between Division I hockey’s Sun Belt teams.
UAH (0-6-0) will still be searching for answers to its struggling offense next weekend at home against Lake Superior State, the first series of WCHA play. The Chargers have scored only three goals through the first six games of the season.
Arizona State improved to 4-2-0.
Things went awry for the Chargers late in the first period. It started with a power play goal by Tyler Busch, who snuck the puck past Jake Theut from inside the right circle with 1:32 remaining for a 1-0 ASU lead.
Then a deflection by Jake Clifford caused a big bounce that seemed to hogtie Theut and find the back of the net with 55 seconds to go.
Austin Lemieux then put in a rebound from all alone in front of Theut with 13 seconds left. Just like that, in a span of 1:19, UAH found itself down 3-0 at the first intermission.
“It was a tough one,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “We had played well last night, but tonight, when you give up three goals in the last 90 seconds of the first period, it hurts you. They made a good play on the power play goal and the two goals, we made mistakes and they scored.”
In the second period, Dylan Hoffman scored ASU’s fourth goal by roofing the puck over Theut’s shoulder from about the same spot as Busch’s goal.
Jack Jeffers scored his first collegiate goal with 10:06 left in the third to put UAH on the board. He was assisted by Christian Rajic and Jesper Ohrvall, getting his first UAH point after transferring from Rensselaer. But it would be the Chargers’ only goal of the night again.
“We’ve got to be able to take advantage of the opportunities we do get,” Corbett said. “We’ve got to create a little bit more. Our structure’s got to be a little bit better offensively and we’ve got to get guys more reps in that structure so that they know where to go, a little bit more predictable, so guys can make some plays.
“We’ve got guys going to areas where they shouldn’t be going. Guys are looking for them in certain areas and they’re not there. We’ve got to get everybody on the same page right now, that’s our biggest thing.”
ASU regained their four-goal lead almost immediately, however, as Jarrod Gourley scored with 9:16 remaining to make it 5-1.
The game featured a plethora of minor penalties: 14 for Arizona State and 13 for UAH. Each team had eight power plays.
ASU outshot UAH by a 35-26 margin. Sun Devil goaltender Joey Daccord finished with 25 saves in the victory. Theut stopped 30 of 35 shots for UAH.
UAH hosts Lake Superior State next Friday and Saturday. Puck drop is 7:07 p.m. both nights.
“The WCHA schedule starts next week, so we’ve got to focus on that,” Corbett said. “We’ve got to move forward. We’re talking more about attitude. You can look at our record, you can look at some of our stats and all that stuff, our attitude’s got to be great right now.
“These guys care. That’s something maybe I haven’t seen in the past all the time, but we’ve got guys that care. We’ve got good kids, and they know they’ve got work to do. That’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror and say we’ve got to work on Monday. We’ve got Lake State coming in this week, and we’ve still got two weeks at home, so we’ve got to make the most of it.”
Three stars of the game:
1. Jake Clifford, ASU (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Joey Daccord, ASU (25 saves)
3. Tyler Busch, ASU (1 goal)